Green Papaya Salad ส้มตำไทย (som tum)
Here is a new and improved recipe for the famous northeastern Thai salad! This time around, I provide you with lots of tricks, tips, and explanations to make sure you can really master this classic, delicious salad. This is also a very healthy salad, so I can really let myself indulge without having to hold back! Serve it with some sticky rice, and try changing up the vegetables because in Thailand we make hundreds of variations on this salad! Note also that it is gluten-free and essentially fat-free (minus a little bit in the peanuts and dried shrimp). Enjoy!
- 1½ cups julienned green papaya, soak in ice water for 10-15 minutes until they are firmer (See my video @1:20 on how to julienne green papaya)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Thai chilies, to taste
- 1½ Tbsp palm sugar, finely chopped, packed
- 2-3 long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 Tbsp roasted peanuts (see note)
- 1 heaping Tbsp small dried shrimp, roughly chop if you have large ones
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (see note)
- 2 tsp tamarind juice
- 1½ Tbsp fish sauce
- ½ cup grape tomato halves or a small tomato cut into wedges
- Serving suggestion: sticky rice and BBQ chicken are classic pairings with papaya salad!
Note: I prefer buying raw peanuts and roasting them myself for the best flavour. Simply put them in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 15-18 minutes until they’re golden, and remember to stir them half way through for even roasting. I keep leftover roasted peanuts in the fridge or in the freezer to keep them fresher longer.
See video for the Thai way of cutting lime. If you have a big juicy lime, 2 Tbsp of juice is about 2/3 of the lime (so if you cut the lime the way I did in the video, you’ll only need to juice piece #1 and #2). If your lime is small or doesn’t have much juice, use the whole lime. You can always measure out the lime juice before adding to be sure.
Drain the papaya well and place in a bowl lined with 2 layers of paper towel to absorb excess water. You want to have as little water on the papaya as possible so as to not dilute the dressing.
In a mortar and pestle, pound garlic and chilies until there are no more chunks (pieces of chili skin is fine).
Add palm sugar and mash with the pestle until it turns into a wet paste and all the chunks are dissolved.
Add long beans and pound just until they’re broken.
Add dried shrimp and peanuts and pound to break the peanuts up slightly.
Add fish sauce, tamarind juice, and lime juice, adding the squeezed lime skin into the mortar as well for extra lime fragrance. Stir with a large spoon to mix and dissolve the sugar.
Add shredded papaya and tomatoes, and mix using the pound-and-flip method as shown in the video @8:40. Once everything looks well mixed and the tomatoes are just slightly crushed, it’s done!
Plate and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts (I forgot to do this in the video!).
If you only have a small mortar and pestle: Pound everything according to instructions above except the papaya and tomatoes. Transfer the content into a large mixing bowl and toss the dressing with the papaya and tomatoes there, pushing on the tomatoes slightly to bruise and release a bit of the juice. Plate and sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.
If you don’t have any mortar and pestle: Finely mince or grate the garlic, finely mince the chilies and add them to a mixing bowl. Put finely chopped palm sugar in a small bowl and drizzle a little hot water on it and mash it into a paste with a fork. Add fish sauce, lime juice and tamarind and stir until the sugar is dissolved and add to the mixing bowl. Stir everything around to infuse the garlic and chilies into the dressing. Roughly chop half the peanuts and add to the mixing bowl. Bruise the long beans until broken using anything heavy you can find in the kitchen (a bottle, a can, rolling pin) then add to the mixing bowl. Add tomatoes and press on them to bruise and release the juice slightly. Add papaya and toss to mix. Plate and garnish with the remaining peanuts.
Green Papaya Salad